Ask Me Another
8:13 am
Thu November 14, 2013

What Month Is It Anyway?

Thirty days hath September, April, June and November. But you'll need more than a mnemonic rhyme to ace this quiz led by house musician Jonathan Coulton, in which all of the answers are one of the 12 calendar months. For example, the name of the month that comes from the Latin word for "ten" is December.

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Transcript

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

On stage right now, we have Pam Hill and Saul Hymes. Pam, just graduated from law school. Congratulations.

PAM HILL: Thank you very much.

EISENBERG: And you are about to be a lawyer. You're just waiting on the...

HILL: I sure hope so.

EISENBERG: Yeah. You're waiting on the results.

HILL: Waiting on the results still.

EISENBERG: And what are you doing in the meantime?

HILL: I'm actually bartending now.

EISENBERG: Oh. Bar - yeah, different bars.

HILL: While I wait for the bar. It's appropriate.

EISENBERG: Right? She just loves bars. She just loves bars.

HILL: Love the bar. Can't get away from the bar.

EISENBERG: And Saul, you're a pediatric infectious disease doctor, something I call bragging.

SAUL HYMES: Sorry.

EISENBERG: Well, that's amazing.

HYMES: Thank you.

EISENBERG: Do people call you House?

HYMES: They don't, though House actually was an infectious disease doctor so I should start asking them to.

EISENBERG: Oh, nice. Dr. House, I like it. Now, you guys both are very smart so here's my question: Pam, if you could get rid of any month from the calendar year, which one would you strike and why?

HILL: Probably February.

EISENBERG: Oh, interesting. Not a Valentine's Day lover? I get it.

HILL: No. It's just too cold. I lived in Boston for eight years and February was just nasty times.

EISENBERG: Yep. Nasty times. I get it. Saul?

HYMES: Probably July because it's when the new interns start in the hospital. Enough said.

EISENBERG: Too very cold answers, actually. So this game is called "What Month is it Anyway?" I'm gonna be a wizard at this game. I already have an answer in mind.

JONATHAN COULTON: That's right. Ring in when you know the answer, what month is it? No, I'm just kidding? It's a little more complicated than that, but only slightly so. In this game there are only 12 possible answers since each of the following questions can be answered with the name of a month and we are talking about the Gregorian or Western calendar so Tishri is not going to be one of the possibilities.

HYMES: Darn.

COULTON: Just cross all those off your list.

EISENBERG: If you recognize that month, you get more time off work, you know?

COULTON: Yeah, that's true. All right. So you understand the rules of the game, yes?

HILL: I think so.

HYMES: Sure.

COULTON: Let's...

HILL: I hope so.

COULTON: I hope so, too, otherwise you're going to be embarrassed.

HYMES: We'll give it a shot.

COULTON: All right. Here we go. The name of what month comes from the Latin word for ten? Saul.

HYMES: December?

COULTON: That's right. So far, so good. There are four months that end in the letter Y. Name the one that comes closest to the end of the calendar year. Saul.

HYMES: July?

COULTON: July is right.

EISENBERG: Yeah. He knows his most hated month.

HYMES: Yes.

COULTON: Know your enemy. That's what they say, right? In the United States, the federal holiday known as Labor Day occurs on the first Monday of September, which occasionally lands on the first of September. But it's always a federal holiday on the first of what month? Pam.

HILL: January?

COULTON: That's right. New Year's Day.

EISENBERG: A day of hope.

COULTON: A day of hope.

EISENBERG: Followed by January 2nd which is also my birthday and the saddest day of the year. It is 'cause everyone wakes up and they're like, already screwed up on my resolutions, right? I've had a drink. I've eaten a donut. I've had a cigarette. I'm still with this person.

HILL: I don't know what you're talking about. Never happened to me.

HYMES: No, no.

COULTON: Maybe you're taking too much on for the first.

HILL: Oh, sorry, sorry.

COULTON: Fictional sisters Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy share a last name with what month. Saul?

HYMES: March.

COULTON: That's right, March. Several months can be girls' names, but which month is named after the first Roman emperor. Pam.

HILL: August.

COULTON: That's right, after Augustus. At the 62nd Primetime Emmys held in 2010, one of the nominees for outstanding lead actress in a drama series had a first name that was the name of a month. Who was it? Pam.

HILL: January?

COULTON: Yeah.

HILL: Jones.

COULTON: January Jones is right. Only one person whose first name is a month has won two Pulitzer Prizes for drama. Who was it? Saul.

HYMES: August Wilson.

COULTON: August Wilson, that's right. All right. This is your last clue. What is the only month whose name is a common English word when its letters are reversed? Pam.

HILL: May?

COULTON: Yeah.

EISENBERG: Yeah. Well done. And yam, one of the best words of all time. I think we can all agree. it's just a funny word.

COULTON: It's an excellant word. John Chaneski, how did they do?

JOHN CHANESKI: We have another tie.

EISENBERG: What?

CHANESKI: That's right. You probably know the song so tell me, how many months have exactly 30 days? Saul.

HYMES: Four.

CHANESKI: Four is correct. Way to go, Saul. You're out winner.

EISENBERG: Well done. Another tight match. Saul, you'll be moving on to our final round at the end of the show. Thank you both.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE DISTANCE")

EISENBERG: Our VIP, that's Very Important Puzzler, is actor Justin Long and we're gonna talk to him about romantic comedies, writing his first feature film, and if he gets and special treatment at the Apple Store. So stick around. I'm Ophira Eisenberg and this is NPR's ASK ME ANOTHER. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.